The AJC’s Mr. Basketball reflected on his recruiting trip to UGA on Wednesday night, said he will visit Georgia Tech within the next few days, and confirmed that yet another national powerhouse has made recent contact.
Who is the new school interested in Westlake High’s Marcus Thornton? It’s none other than North Carolina and coach Roy Williams. Thornton confirmed only that he has talked with the Tar Heels, and politely declined further comment at this time. He wouldn’t say whether or not it was too late in the process to consider another school.
But the 6-foot-7 power forward had plenty to say about his recruiting trip to UGA on Monday: ”The Georgia coaches said I’d be the first Mr. Georgia Basketball to go to UGA in a long time,” Thornton said in an email. “It will be an opportunity to help (the program) turn around, help Georgia to become a powerhouse, and begin to attract other top in-state players.”
Thornton on UGA coach Mark Fox: “Coach Fox likes for his team to get up and down the floor. He likes to run the triangle offense, which is the offense that was used for both Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Coach Fox seems to know how to get the best out of each player.”
Thornton on his role at UGA: “Coach Fox says Georgia is in need of a versatile 3-man and felt that I could develop into that role in their system. He also felt that there was a chance for me to step in and compete early, with Travis Leslie playing more of the 2-man.”
Academics will also be a major factor in the college decision for Thornton, who is an Honor Student with a 3.7 GPA. Thornton’s parents, Billy and Meril, were impressed with UGA president Michael Adams and athletics director Damon Evans.
“As a former UGA athlete, (Evans) exhibited the most passion when he talked about the many resources and policies he has put in place to improve the academic success and graduation rate of UGA student-athletes,” Billy said. “For example, he has instituted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for habitual ‘missed classes’ by UGA athletes. Violation results in an automatic multi-game suspension.”
What’s next for Thornton? He will meet with Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt over the next few days, and then decide between Texas, UGA, Georgia Tech and Alabama before or on his high graduation date of May 21.
Thornton originally signed with Clemson, but was granted a release from his letter-of-intent from the Tigers after coach Oliver Purnell was hired away by DePaul. Purnell was a main reason Thornton picked Clemson. Over the past month, Thornton turned into one of college basketball’s hottest prospects, fielding more than a dozen offers, including Kentucky, Florida, Michigan and Memphis.
As a senior, Thornton led Westlake to the state championship game in Georgia’s largest classification, averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds.